I initially found this class was a good bit of review for me. I believed that I had covered much of what we were learning about in either my Sociology of Inequality or Intro to Sociology. But as the course progressed I found there were phenomena involving sex and gender that I had not previously realized existed in society at large or here at Conn. I also feel that I have developed a great capacity to analyze images and language which socially construct sex or gender–which is perhaps the most important aspect of this class for me. (I almost wrote “for men”, which reflects how much I have been writing about sex and gender this semester). I consistently confront my friends about how all sorts of words and phrases have been created to establish heteronormative binaries or hierarchies and it annoys the hell out of them. I
really enjoyed how we were able to take ideas from our readings and critically analyze them, then use those ideas to critically analyze ideas about things we saw in popular culture or at Conn. I always had a nasty feeling about hookup culture but I never realized how it is constructed to favor men and to reinforce masculinities. In my Sociology of Inequality course, everything was tied back to capitalism and why those who have agency do what they do to gain power in our economic system but I enjoyed that this course put sex and gender constructions in terms of social dominance as well. I knew that men were building up their bodies for the wrong reasons, I just never knew that there were so many forces from the media pushing men into that box. I have really now acknowledge that I grew up in a very non-heteronormative environment which ignored a lot of these influences like wrestling. Now that I’ve had a chance to explore what non-heteronormative behavior really entail, I can start to reevaluate my own life. I totally have had to question my own identity and other people’s identities. I’ve had moments where I was internally (or externally ) going “WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?!?!”. But that’s what makes sociology so cool.
I also enjoyed that this class forced us to be activists in our community. My friends have been exhibiting a bunch of privilege by complaining about blogs and social media posts which question systems that criticize systems that support sexism, racism, wealth bias, etc. As I start looking forward to my junior and senior years, I start thinking about books that I would like to read, courses that I would like to take, or plays that I would like to read or direct or act in. And all of those things will relate to how I want to shape my activist agenda. I think that if we keep knocking eventually we’ll get through to the doubters and this class gave me really good experience about how to do just that.
Patrick Gallagher Landes